The Great Recession has taken an extremely heavy toll on hard-working UK families; but as the economy begins to turn-around, you can put your domestic economy on the road to recovery, too.
“Smart is the new rich”. The more you know about how money and credit work, and the better you use what you know, the more effectively and efficiently you will grow your family’s wealth. Three fundamental principles support “smart” money management:
- First, shift almost exclusively to a cash economy, using credit only for major purchases or emergencies; the radical shift assures you do not spend money you do not have.
- Second, live within your means by following financial managers’ formulae for household expenses; especially bring your housing, utilities, and car expenses to 40, ten and ten percent respectively.
- Third, and perhaps most importantly, run your household like a profit-making enterprise. The profit you turn becomes the wealth you transmit to your children.
Five fundamentals to credit saving
Strictly, strategically budget.
Studies show, contrary to popular belief and long-standing tradition, women manage the money in nearly 80 percent of UK households, putting their husbands and children on allowances and carefully controlling the cash-flow. According to family therapists, this phenomenon is not at all strange, because moms typically manage family discipline, too. The two responsibilities go hand-in-hand. Write-out a family budget and stick to it; deviate from the budget guidelines only in emergencies. Especially help your children anticipate their monthly expenses, and reinforce the importance of planning by refusing to buy anything at the last minute—even including supplies for school projects and reports.
Set and meet savings goals.
Common sense, and the experts, set two basic savings benchmarks–£1000 in a liquid “emergency fund,” and six months’ salary in an accessible long-term savings account. Meeting those goals almost qualifies you for membership among the one percent, because more than 80 per cent of UK families live just one pay check away from homelessness. To meet these goals, follow the time-honoured rule, “make yourself your first creditor,” putting ten percent of each pay check immediately into savings—not subject to debate, discussion, or negotiation.
Follow the “value” formulas.
Imprint these symbols somewhere you cannot forget them: V=$/d, which translates to value equals the price over the product’s life expectancy; “d” appears in the formula as a placeholder for “durability,” a reminder that, the longer the product lasts, the less it costs. In general, the classic design by the famous maker will cost far less than the disposable “gotta have it” product—up to 90 percent less over the life of the product. A corollary applies, too: The longer you take to pay for a product on credit, the more it costs. In some experts’ examples, a $50 pair of jeans can end-up costing up to $1000 when the buyer abuses her credit privileges and pays penalties and extra interest.
Work your techniques and tools.
Never-ever-ever pay full retail! Nothing is so awesome it justifies paying the full manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Nothing. Search the internet and your smartphone apps for the best prices; shop high-end factory outlet stores, check major discounters’ websites, use coupons, work end-of-season clearances, and risk the occasional haggle. And do not forget resale boutiques, thrift stores, and yard sales in upscale neighbourhoods. The “one-percenters” are downsizing and economising just like you.
Manage credit to build your score.
Locked in a three-way tie with your IQ and NI number, your credit score ranks number one among the numbers in your life. Those three digits determine how much you pay for the privilege of borrowing money; and, in most states, with most companies, it also determines how much you pay for insurance. Although you want to shift most of your household finances to “cash only,” you must use credit sparingly to maintain good credit. Get an American Express card, use it once each month, and pay it off promptly each month to improve your score. Then, pay all of your bills exactly according to the due dates, systematically paying 15% more than the minimum on the card with the highest balance until you pay it off, and repeating that practice until you retire all your unsecured obligations. Meeting the deadlines and reducing the balances, you gain points. 100 points on a credit score translate to a 15% difference in interest rates on auto loans—living proof that a little discipline goes a long-long way.
What you do not know about money and credit can and will hurt you. Adjust your thinking about money, becoming its manager instead of its victim; and reinforce your aggressive attitude and tactics, becoming money-wise by taking an online personal finance course. Managing wisely, you can give yourself a pay raise without pleading to the boss or taking a second job. Following the five fundamentals, you can effectively increase your saving and spending power by 25 per cent or more.